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Cracks in Walls and Ceilings: When to Worry - A Guide by Lepage Builders & Co.

Updated: 5 days ago

As homeowners, we often notice cracks appearing on our walls and ceilings. While some of these cracks may be superficial and caused by natural settling, others might be indicative of underlying structural issues that demand immediate attention. Lepage Builders & Co., a renowned construction company in South East London, brings you this informative blog to help you understand when cracks in walls and ceilings are cause for concern.


Crack in wall
Cracks in wall

Understanding Types of Cracks


Before panicking about every little crack, it's essential to distinguish between different types of cracks. Hairline cracks, for instance, are typically shallow and may be caused by minor temperature fluctuations or normal house settlement. These hairline cracks are usually nothing to worry about. On the other hand, wider cracks that run diagonally or vertically and appear to be increasing in size may signal potential structural problems.



Settlement Cracks


In newly constructed buildings, minor settlement cracks are common as the house adjusts to its foundation. These cracks are usually thin and appear within the first year or two after construction. Homeowners can monitor them and observe if they stabilize or continue to grow. If they remain stable, there is often no cause for concern. However, if the cracks continue to widen, it's crucial to seek professional advice.


Cracks between 5mm and 15mm may need professional building work and there might be underlying repairs. Severe — cracks up to 25mm wide could be a sign of structural damage and should be inspected and repaired by a professional.

Structural Issues


Wide and deep cracks, especially those running diagonally, may indicate structural issues like foundation movement, soil expansion, or improper construction. These cracks could compromise the stability of your home and should not be ignored. Seeking professional assistance from experts like Lepage Builders & Co. is vital to assess the extent of the problem and devise appropriate remedies.


Structure crack on wall
Structure crack on wall

Natural Wear and Tear


Over time, buildings may experience wear and tear due to regular usage and weather exposure. Cracks caused by normal aging are generally minor and can be addressed with routine maintenance and repairs. Nonetheless, keeping an eye on these cracks is essential to prevent them from escalating.


When to Seek Professional Help


If you notice any of the following signs, it's time to call in the experts from Lepage Builders & Co.:


a. Cracks wider than 1/8 inch (3mm).

b. Cracks that are widening or spreading.

c. Cracks combined with jammed doors or windows.

d. Cracks accompanied by water stains or mold growth.

e. Cracks appearing suddenly after an earthquake or severe weather event.


Fequently asked questions


  1. What causes cracks to appear in walls and ceilings?

  • Cracks can be caused by various factors such as settlement of the building's foundation, fluctuations in temperature and humidity, structural issues, poor construction practices, or even natural events like earthquakes (though rare in the UK). Other common causes include water damage, especially from leaking pipes or inadequate drainage, and subsidence, which can occur when the ground beneath the building shifts or sinks.


  1. How can I tell if a crack in my wall or ceiling is serious?

  • Not all cracks are cause for immediate concern, but some signs indicate a more serious issue. These include cracks that are wider than about 3mm (1/8 inch), especially if they are diagonal or stair-step shaped, or if they appear suddenly. Additionally, if doors or windows start sticking or if there are noticeable changes in the levelness of the floors, it could indicate a structural problem requiring professional inspection.


  1. Should I try to repair cracks myself, or should I hire a professional?

  • Minor cracks caused by normal settling can often be repaired with simple DIY methods like filling them with spackling or joint compound. However, it's important to monitor the crack for any signs of worsening. If you're unsure about the cause or severity of the crack, or if it's affecting the structural integrity of your home, it's best to consult a professional, such as a structural engineer or a qualified builder, who can assess the situation and recommend appropriate repairs.


  1. How much does it typically cost to repair cracks in walls and ceilings?

  • The cost of repairing cracks can vary widely depending on the cause and severity of the damage, as well as the location and size of the crack. Minor cosmetic repairs may only cost a few pounds for materials, while more extensive repairs, such as fixing structural issues or addressing water damage, can run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds. It's advisable to get multiple quotes from reputable contractors before proceeding with any repairs.


  1. Can cracks in walls and ceilings be prevented?

  • While it's not always possible to prevent cracks entirely, there are steps homeowners can take to minimize the risk. Regular maintenance, including checking for and repairing any leaks or water damage, maintaining proper drainage around the foundation, and ensuring adequate ventilation, can help prevent many common causes of cracks. Additionally, hiring qualified professionals for construction and renovation projects, especially those involving structural changes, can help ensure that work is done to high standards, reducing the likelihood of future issues.



Conclusion


In conclusion, not all cracks in walls and ceilings warrant immediate concern. Hairline cracks are generally harmless, but wider, deeper cracks and those that continue to grow may indicate structural problems or water leakage.


Regularly inspect your home for any signs of cracks and seek professional help from a trusted company like Lepage Builders & Co. to assess and address any potential issues. Prompt action can save you from costly repairs and ensure the safety and stability of your home for years to come.

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